On a whim last week, I decided to take the kids out to lunch. It was hot, and I didn’t want to cook. Air conditioning + food = WIN.
It took half an hour to get Aidan to change out of his pajama shorts into something else, anything else, which is why I did not argue when he declared himself ready to go in a pair of very loose soccer shorts and a mismatched, stained sleep shirt. Fine, I said. I do not care. Let’s go already. I chose Ruby Tuesday because it was close.
Trying to walk into the restaurant, I tripped spectacularly. It reminded me of the fateful scene in 50 Shades of Grey when Anastasia falls through the door to meet Christian. Only in a chain restaurant, not a fancy office. And a slightly frazzled 30-something mom instead of a sexy young college graduate. With kids in tow, one of whom was in a dirty pajama shirt and ridiculously oversized shorts. Okay, so it was nothing like that scene from 50 Shades. Whatever. I fell, and there was staring, and I was all, What, you’ve never seen anyone make an entrance before? But only in my head, because I do know the difference between making an entrance and making a scene, thank you very much.
The hostess took so long to seat us that we were still standing there on display next to the salad bar when Aidan used up the last of his “you get three chances before Mommy loses her temper” warnings. Making my (slightly louder than I intended) exclamation of, “ENOUGH with boogers!” the second time that the entire staff and patronage of Ruby Tuesday stopped what they were saying and doing in order to turn around and stare. We did get seated rather quickly after that, though.
For the next 15 minutes, everything was fine. We ordered cheeseburgers and soaked up the cool air. I helped Isabel with a Word Find and Aidan with a connect-the-dots. Our food came and it tasted good. Okay, I thought. We recovered. It’ll be smooth sailing from here on out.
Then Aidan leaned over to me. And whispered, “Mommy, I had an accident.”
When you have young children, you look forward to certain milestones, convinced that they represent a passage into an easier phase of parenting. Potty training is a big one. No more diapers! No more wipes! No more fugly diaper bags! What’s easy to forget in the midst of that excitement is that the milestone is really just the entry into a protracted, awkward phase of misplaced optimism and underpreparedness. It’s been more than two years since I’ve carried any of the supplies needed to deal with pottying in one’s pants.
“Alright,” I said, still hopeful. “That’s okay. Did you just pee a little?”
Aidan didn’t say anything for a moment, and I knew. With a sinking feeling in my gut, total defeat in my heart, and hopes of not making a scene rapidly disappearing into the rearview mirror, I knew. He crooked his little finger at me and I leaned down. “I pooped,” he whispered into my ear.
Of course he did.
“Okay,” I said. “Just… sit still for a minute.” I plotted our route to the bathroom, and the path seemed to grow longer as I looked at it, like that creepy hallway effect they use in scary movies. There’s a name for it, but I can never remember what it is. I will henceforth refer to it as the “Aidan’s got a load in his pants in Ruby Tuesday” effect. I reached for his hand, ready to guide him to the restroom.
Then I realized we had bigger problems.
On the seat next to me, Aidan was swimming in his loose-legged, too-big shorts. The fabric flowed widely on either side of his legs; underneath I knew he had on his favorite Cars unders with the loose elastic on the legs. And what I saw when I looked at this unfortunate combination of clothing was not underwear and shorts, but rather every single open bag that I have ever upended when I didn’t want to. I saw grocery bags with produce tumbling out onto the floor of the van and purses dropping keys and wallets and assorted papers into parking lots. Strapped around Aidan’s waist was a precariously balanced, open sack of poop just waiting to plop out onto the carpeted floor of Ruby Tuesday. And I had to somehow get this poop package, with the boy inside it, from our booth, through the restaurant, and into the bathroom, without leaving a nuggety little trail along the way.
I had a feeling that there was soon to be more staring in my future.
“Listen, buddy,” I sighed. “I need you to slowly lean back and lay down, okay?” Aidan nodded; he knew we were going to do something weird which meant, of course, that he was all in. As he laid down I worked at the legs of his shorts, folding and tucking the fabric between his legs, which I then pinched together with my right hand. “Ready?” I asked.
In one, quick motion I stood, pulling Aidan’s legs with me, and slid my other arm beneath his back to scoop him up. He laughed as I cradled his back like a baby on the left and held his legs straight up in the air, little sneakers wobbling above my ear, on the right. “Mom-eeee!” he squealed, giggling. He thought this was hilarious. “Don’t move,” I said. The people at the next table were open-mouthed. I gave them a nod, straightened my back, and tried to look proud as I marched my wiggling, laughing, nearly upside down five year old through Ruby Tuesday.
Silence descended as we walked. Just before we made it to the vestibule that had the bathroom doors, we crossed paths with a very surprised waitress. “Is everything okay?” she asked, her eyes wide.
I cocked my head to the side. “Of course,” I said. “Will you please excuse us?”
Aidan arched his back and laughed. “Boogers!” he said.
The waitress jumped to the side.”Oh! Ah… um…. sure!”
“Thank you,” I said, wriggling my hand from beneath Aidan’s back to pull open the door. As I turned around to carry my son and his poopy pants into the bathroom, I saw a long line of stunned faces looking back at me. But in between, the floor was clean.
I smiled back at them.
Now that is how you make a scene.